By Joshua Cenzano
SANTA BARBARA, CA – A couple of plea deals in misdemeanor cases should have been quick work here in Santa Barbara County Superior Court last week, but as a result of widespread infections of COVID-19, one of the deals took a little extra work.
(Note: The Vanguard will refer to these accused only by JOHN DOE and JOHN DOE JR because the Vanguard does not use real names of misdemeanor accused in most cases.)
In the first of two guilty plea deals, JOHN DOE faced the upsetting possibility of staying in jail longer than necessary because he was unable to properly transmit the appropriate waivers to convey his guilty plea here.
Robert Goodman, the attorney appointed for his defense, expressed frustration in Santa Barbara’s Dept. 6 as he tried navigating the Zoom courtrooms and electronic documents in an attempt to properly submit his client’s guilty plea before the court.
“My support staff have all left; it’s just me here,” said Goodman in court via Zoom, detailing his inability to procure the signed plea waiver necessary for the court to accept DOE’s guilty plea.
Recent COVID surges have placed the jail in which DOE is currently incarcerated under full quarantine, preventing Goodman from giving his client the proper documents to sign. The electronic alternatives are not an adequate solution, according to Goodman.
In an attempt to accommodate DOE in light of this complication, Judge Pauline Maxwell and ADA Diane Dills agreed to take his plea orally on the record, an unusual method of accepting guilty pleas, to circumvent the need for written acknowledgement of his waived rights.
DOE is charged with one count of resisting or obstructing a law enforcement officer, a misdemeanor, as well as violation of his probation. Judge Maxwell enumerated all of his rights that he was waiving by pleading guilty, to which he provided verbal acknowledgement over the phone from a designated room in jail.
“The Court hereby accepts your plea,” said the judge and handed down a sentence of 49 days in custody, after which DOE’s probation will be reinstated.
AN EASIER PLEA DEAL CASE #2:
JOHN DOE JR pleaded guilty this week to inflicting corporal injury on his wife and Judge Brian Hill accepted his guilty plea to the misdemeanor charge and released him pending sentencing.
JOHN DOE JR is accused of harming his wife on September 7, 2020, for which he was arraigned and pleaded not guilty within a month of the crime. He was represented by Public Defender Anders Iversen in court.
DOE JR ultimately reversed his decision and accepted the terms of his crime, submitting himself for firearms and public safety review after the court received his guilty plea.
Assistant District Attorney Diane Dills reminded the man of his rights in waiving of his right to trial. Part of the prosecution’s conditions included DOE JR’s participation in an assessment to determine if and how much anger management he will be subject to as a condition of his plea.